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  1. #1
    franz Guest

    Default Looking for Cross-Country Info

    I am looking for information on planning and going on a summer cross-country roadtrip on the cheap as a high school student. I have always wanted to take a roadtrip like that, and currently I am writing a feature article about it for my school newspaper and would like some general info. A few questions:

    -what are some suggestions to keep the trip cheap, but livable?

    -what kind of a budget would one need to take a trip from (approximately) New York to Los Angeles and back, taking time to see and do interesting things along the way, keeping in mind the previous question?

    -is it recommended to spend every night in a hotel/motel, or is staying in your car some nights better?

    -can you suggest some routes to take (from NY to LA and back) that would take you through the most diverse cultures, areas (urban, rural, etc.), and natural settings (desert, forest, plains, etc.) in the U.S. (and perhaps Canada)?

    -what are some tips to keep from getting mentally and physically sick on a trip?

    -should you try to bring a lot of stuff (food, clothes, euipment, etc.) along, or buy things along the way as you need them?

    -what are some ways to avoid conflict with people you are travelling with (assuming that they are friends)?

    -should a shorter roadtrip be attempted first before embarking on a cross-country journey?

    -how long would a be (approximately) to travel from NY to LA, taking a mix of back roads and interstates, and stopping at some points of interest (national parks, famous spots, cities, etc.)?

    -what kind of passenger car would be recommended for a party of 2-5 people?

    ...and finally,

    -what are some very interesting, fun, pretty, or simply cool places to stop at on such a trip?

    I know that I asked a lot of rather specific questions, so feel free to answer whatever ones you want, or none at all. That said, I would apperciate any and all help and information. Thanks!!

    -Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Plenty of ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by franz
    -what are some suggestions to keep the trip cheap, but livable?
    Dan, Welcome to the Forum. There are already scores of posts on this subject (suggest using the search function and use "high school" as keyword. Plus here is an article entitled The Art of the Cheap Roadtrip with plenty of tips.

    You might also get some useful information by reading these articles about challenge and quest road trips.

    Mark

  3. #3
    franz Guest

    Default

    Hey, thanks. I'm looking at those articles now and they look like promising sources for my article. Do you mind if I cite you as a source and use some quotes from your articles? That would be very helpful. I also was checking out the 'Funny Roadsigns" section on the site, they're hilarious!
    Thanks again!

    -Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Welcome to the forum! Great questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by franz
    -what are some suggestions to keep the trip cheap, but livable?
    Short answer:
    * eat out of your cooler
    * camp at inexpensive campgrounds or for free in national forests, or sleep in your car at truck stops whenever possible
    * drive a vehicle that gets great gas mileage
    * limit souvenirs to inexpensive things like a hat-pin or a magnet
    * limit activities to free or very inexpensive stuff
    * get a National Parks pass

    -what kind of a budget would one need to take a trip from (approximately) New York to Los Angeles and back, taking time to see and do interesting things along the way, keeping in mind the previous question?
    I don't know what you have in mind, but I the following through MS Streets & Trips: NY-LA-NY, quickest route, vehicle that gets 28mpg in town and 31mpg on the highway, gas at $2.50/gallon, driving 6 hours per day.

    Here's what it gave me based on the above parameters:
    * Your route would be 5576 miles (this does NOT include any little side-trips you would make)
    * It would take you 87 hours and 45 minutes of driving time done over 14 days, 4 hours, and 15 minutes.
    * Just the fuel would cost you $451.68.

    If you left at 7am and drove until about 1:30 each day, this would give you the afternoon/evening to sight see in the each new place. But would still give you time to cover some miles each day.

    Is this about what you had in mind?

    Based on this,
    * You would need the $451.68 for fuel.
    * Then figure $30/night minimum for lodging as you will find some cheap campgrounds for $15/night and, at other times, you might have to stay in a cheap hotel for $50/night....all give or take a bit. But this should give you a safe average to shoot for. Over 14 days/13 nights, this would come to $390.
    * Then figure $15/day to re-stock your cooler at full-size grocery stores, NOT gas station mini-marts. You could probably do it cheaper than this but you will probably succumb to a few cheap meals at McDonald's or other places like that so, to me, $10 is a good figure to shoot for if you're on a tight budget. You might want to save the excess up for a few days and splurge on a nice meal now and then. Of course, if you're planning on eating in restaurants most meals, this figure would be much higher. I would figure a minimum of $50/day if I was eating all meals in restaurants. But, if you're doing the cheap, eat from your cooler method, I think this figure is pretty close to what you'd need. So this would be $210.
    * I would figure AT MINIMUM $15/day for souveniers and entry fees. This would be another $210.

    This would total $1261.68.

    -is it recommended to spend every night in a hotel/motel, or is staying in your car some nights better?
    I prefer camping in established campgrounds. I don't sleep well in a car. A few of the folks here do sleep in their cars at truck stops (never rest stops!). Of course, hotels are usually the easiest route but they're not the cheapest. If your goal is cheap, then camping and/or sleeping in the car is the preferred method. If you've got extra bucks to spend, the hotel is probably the easiest route.

    I usually prefer camping if the weather is good because I like the atmosphere at a campground better than the hotel, and appreciate being outside to enjoy the outdoors. And campgrounds are nice places to walk around and stretch my legs. Hotel parking lots aren't near as much fun to walk around in.

    Gen, a regular poster here, really seems to enjoy her truck-stop sleeping adventures. This doesn't appeal to me at all and I would only do it in a pinch.

    Hotels are a nice option in cities where camping opportunities are more scarce.

    So nobody can really recommend what way is best and there is no right answer. It depends on the person, the circumstances, the weather, etc.

    -can you suggest some routes to take (from NY to LA and back) that would take you through the most diverse cultures, areas (urban, rural, etc.), and natural settings (desert, forest, plains, etc.) in the U.S. (and perhaps Canada)?
    I think you will find this diversity on every single route possible. All routes will take you through different cultures, topography, scenic views, etc. You should base your right on specific things you want to see and do along the way.

    -what are some tips to keep from getting mentally and physically sick on a trip?
    Listen to what your body is telling you. If you're exhausted, stop and rest. Don't push yourself too much. And try to eat right. This is one of the good things about eating out of a cooler. You can focus on fruits, veggies, and other healthy choices instead of fried/fatty foods like most of us eat in restaurants. Drink lots of water. Stop and stretch your legs and don't try to drive too many miles in too short of a time. You might get some hints from "The Art of the Speed Run" (shamless plug).

    -should you try to bring a lot of stuff (food, clothes, euipment, etc.) along, or buy things along the way as you need them?
    Except for replenishing your cooler with food from a grocery store, I see no reason to buy clothing or equipment along the way. Unless, of course, you've got a lot of money to blow.

    -what are some ways to avoid conflict with people you are travelling with (assuming that they are friends)?
    I would start with a shorter trip with people you plan on traveling with to make sure you are all compatible. And don't plan on spending all your time together. Planning time apart. Don't live in each others back pocket. And everybody should have a "go with the flow" attitude.

    -should a shorter roadtrip be attempted first before embarking on a cross-country journey?
    If you've never done a roadtrip before, and since you're fairly young, I think short weekend trips would be a good idea before you embark on a cross-country adventure.

    -how long would a be (approximately) to travel from NY to LA, taking a mix of back roads and interstates, and stopping at some points of interest (national parks, famous spots, cities, etc.)?
    Well, I gave you some of this above from what I gathered from MS Streets & Trips. However, this didn't include veering off of interstates. You could do this trip in about 14 days or 14 weeks. It really depends on your time and budget.

    -what kind of passenger car would be recommended for a party of 2-5 people?
    Anything that runs good and comfortably seats you all. And has enough room for your gear. I would think a mini-van would be ideal.

    ...and finally,

    -what are some very interesting, fun, pretty, or simply cool places to stop at on such a trip?
    There are hundreds of possibilities. What appeals to you? What have you read about that you would like to see? What appeals to me might be boring to you. Hard to answer at this point but I'll be glad to give you ideas later once you get things firmed up a bit more.

    Hope this helps a bit!

  5. #5
    franz Guest

    Default Thanks/More info

    Wow... thanks a ton for all that great information. The reason that I chose a cross-country trip for my paper article was that I went on a family trip out west last year. We flew there, unfortuantely, but drove through California, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. It had been carefully planned and was more of a vacation than a road trip, but it was really great.
    I was totally amazed by the diversity of literally everything, the neat people, how cool and different nature was out there (especially the great canyons), and how everything was so much BIGGER there than I have found in Pennsylvania thus far. That is what I want to experience on a trip, to learn anything and everything that is there for me to find.
    I want to eventually take another trip out there with about four of my close friends, but this time drive, and experience everything in between the east and west coasts. I want to see unsusual, important, exciting, and new things, and learn about them. I want to know what it is like to live in those other places of America where i haven't been yet, and know what ther is to about them. I also want to have fun with my friends, and be ourselves on the road, being funny, wierd and messing around.
    On a trip like that, I wouldn't want to drive interstates in a straight line as quick as possible, rather, i would enjoy taking back roads and going into and understanding local towns and regions. By understand, i mean knowing the area to be like my hometown, finding similarities and differences, and seeing it for it's uniqueness, and seeing other parts of it other than the ones that i pass through.
    Things that would interest me on the road (or many other teens) would be things like national parks with cool attributes (an example is Bryce Nat'l Park, it has the coolest rock formations and great views), other places with neat views, places where there is nothing but a road and open fields and skies, the innner cities (upper class places and nitty-gritty parts), oceans and big lakes, unique places with unique things. Also, some places that have to do with music would be good, because most teens like rock music. Just any place that is different from pennsylvania or any other place that we have been. I would look mainly for new and exciting things, and explore new places with my friends. That is what it is all about for me, experiencing new things and places. Thanks for the great information!!

    -dan
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-11-2005 at 07:32 PM. Reason: Good Neighbor rules

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Dan,
    With your attitude, you're going to have many years of fascinating roadtrips ahead of you.

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